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SMC Tennis: Belles split conference matches

Aaron Sant-Miller | Sunday, April 1, 2012

In a season filled with substantial margins of victory and defeat, Saint Mary’s played two close matches this weekend.

On Friday, the Belles lost to Alma 5-4, but were able to bounce back Saturday and beat in-state rival Trine by a score of 6-3, both conference matches.

Against Alma (9-2, 3-0 MIAA), Saint Mary’s (8-6, 2-2) played a tight match, before the Belles fell 5-4.

“It was a good match,” Belles coach Dale Campbell said. “I thought we were slightly favored, so I’m a little bit disappointed in that match.”

The match seesawed back and forth throughout, with the Belles taking the third doubles match, 8-4, off the stellar play of sophomore Margaret Boden and freshman Jackie Kjolhede. However, Saint Mary’s slipped up in the first and second doubles matches, with the overall margin turning to 2-1 in Alma’s favor.

Kjolhede and Boden again asserted themselves, as they captured two of the three Saint Mary’s singles victories, while sophomore Mary Catherine Faller claimed the third win in the one-spot.

However, Alma was able to take the other three singles matchups, leading them to the victory. Belles freshman Kayle Sexton battled her way into a second-set tiebreaker, but fell 11-9 to Alma freshman Erin Clutter. Clutter took the third-set and the match as well, winning 7-5.

Alma senior Amy Baranowski was able to defeat Saint Mary’s freshman Shannon Elliott in the third spot, the deciding match, as it claimed the fifth necessary victory for Alma.

“They were very good in doubles, and got out to an early lead on us,” Campbell said. “There were a couple close matches there at the end that could have gone either way, so it was a tough one to lose.”

The Belles showed their resilience Saturday, as they were able to bounce back and claim a decisive victory over Trine (4-7, 0-3). This fortitude did not escape Campbell.

“Saturday, we did a good job of resetting and getting our minds ready for that next match,” Campbell said.

The Belles flexed their muscles early, as they swept all three doubles matchups, something Campbell said they had focused on doing.

“Trine is a much improved team and we knew they would be tougher in singles, which was something we talked about that ahead of time,” Campbell said. “So we wanted to get ahead in doubles, and that’s what we were able to do.”

Boden and Kjolhede again claimed victories in the five and six singles spots, wrapping up an undefeated weekend for the duo in singles and doubles.

However, Trine was able to claim the first, third and fourth singles matchups, nabbing three victories on the day. Sexton was captured a singles match, leading to a split between the schools in singles play. With the 6-3 victory over their in-state rival, the Belles returned to a .500 mark in the MIAA, and move to an 8-6 record overall.

Looking forward, the Belles have more than a week to rest. They will not play again until after Easter.

“We’re going to let the team off four days during Easter break,” Campbell said. “This is intentional, so we can give them a little bit of a break as we go into the home-stretch for the rest of the season.”

The Belles next hit the courts April 12 at home at 4 p.m. against Bethel.

Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at [email protected]